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posted by chromas on Wednesday December 04 2019, @03:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the Meatslap! dept.

Plant-based burgers are "ultra-processed" like dog food, meat-backed ads say

A public-relations firm backed by meat producers has unleashed a savage marketing campaign that claims plant-based meat alternatives are unhealthy, "ultra-processed imitations" similar to dog food.

The campaign rolled out in recent weeks from the industry-funded firm Center for Consumer Freedom, according to The New York Times. So far, it has included full-page ads and opinion pieces in mainstream newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. All the marketing material raises health concerns about trendy meat alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger.

One ad posed the question "What's hiding in your plant-based meat?" Another directed readers to take the quiz "Veggie Burger or Dog Food?"

In an op-ed, the managing director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, Will Coggin, labeled meat alternatives as "ultra-processed" foods and noted that a recent study led by the researchers at the National Institutes of Health linked ultra-processed foods to weight gain.

The negative marketing campaign comes amid soaring popularity of meat alternatives, which threaten to slice into the meat market's sales and profits. In recent months, big players in the meat industry had tried a different—some might say hypocritical—tactic to compete with the new comers—that is, they released their own lines of meat alternatives. Now, the industry wants consumers to think such alternatives are unhealthy.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:23PM (13 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:23PM (#928192)

    Never understood why veg(i) peeps have products that simulate whatever they don’t want (e.g. meat free burger, alcohol free beer...). If you want to eat and drink bad stuff, deep fry those veggies tempura style, or have sparkling mineral watered fruit juice. Who really wants a burger’n’beer without the juicy animal fats and alcohol stimulants to fire those endocardioneurons.

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  • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:38PM

    by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:38PM (#928200) Homepage Journal

    Wish I knew. The more a food is dressed up to look like meat, the more I am put off by it. I think they serve a purpose as a sort of gateway food for people that liked eating meat and are trying to slowly wean themselves off it, or just reduce their intake, or give the veggie thing a try. Also there may be some (admittedly few) meat eaters that would consider these alternatives on the basis of cost (if they can be made cheaper--typically they're not really unless you make your own from basic ingredients), environmental impact or just something they'd be willing to eat while staying at a veggie household.

    --
    If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by TheRaven on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:40PM (1 child)

    by TheRaven (270) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:40PM (#928201) Journal
    Many of these things are aimed at flexitarians: people that eat meat but want to cut back on it. A lot of them want to replace the most processed meats that they eat with something that's plant based: they'll keep eating decent steak occasionally, but substitute vegetable-based alternatives for the cheaper things that they eat more frequently. This is a far more of a problem for the meat industry, because if you significantly reduce the market for the cheap cuts, that will push up the price for the prime cuts, further reducing demand.
    --
    sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05 2019, @10:30AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05 2019, @10:30AM (#928408)

      Perhaps, but it still makes no sense to me.

      But I'm very much a meat eater. I have zero plans to change, because I know meat protein, and fat, are very important to health. And it tastes good for a *reason*.

      Yet, I love vegetables and fruits. A fresh apple off a tree? Grapes? Carrots, broccoli eaten my steak? Onions, green peppers, fried and cooked with my steak?

      Vegetables taste good. And you'd think vegetarians must like them, at least a little. So why the hell not make delicious vegetable dishes???

      I'm guessing, you can't improve on the ones that already exist, and that the truth is simple. A vegetarian is *craving* the taste of meat, the texture of meat, for one reason.

      Their body needs it, wants it, is DESPERATE for it.

      It's like potato chips. Do you know how many bags are sold a year? I see friends, trying to cut back on fat, on meat, then they go and buy a big bag, and eat such maybe twice or three times a week.

      Well, what's in potato chips? What's ON them? Even the healthy ones are coated in oil, and then? Salt! Along with other seasonings... the oil is designed to hold them there.

      So... not getting enough salt, not getting enough fat, and their bodies FORCE them to CRAVE something full of it.

      I noticed this, and decided to eat a couple of strips of bacon a day, and make sure I got at least a table spoon of grease onto a piece of bread. ALL CRAVINGS FOR POTATO CHIPS DISAPPEARED!

      Eating too much fat is probably bad, but eating TOO LITTLE is surely too bad.

      And my point is, that's why vegetarians want stupid crap like veggie burgers. The crave what's good for them, and a home-cooked burger is very healthy, especially right off the grill with grease dripping into the bun...

  • (Score: 1) by Surak_Prime on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:44PM

    by Surak_Prime (4843) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:44PM (#928206)

    You're assuming that the whole market for these items is vegans/vegetarians, or teetotalers. I love well-prepared steak and chicken. But I'm not a big fan of hamburgers made with ground meat, and I much prefer soyburger patties. And sometimes I like tofu in my stir-fries - not to replace meat, but right there along side it. (Though I do notice that I cut back on the meat when doing that, which is probably accidentally good for me.) I'm not doing it for ethical reasons, and I'm not doing it for my health. I eat some of these things because some of them are additional tasty options for my face hole. This also applies to "near beer": if I'm going to drink alcohol, I'm drinking liquor, because my tolerance is such that beer doesn't even begin to give me a buzz, and it kinda tastes like crap - EXCEPT, every once in a while, when paired with a good steak. In which case, I'm not drinking it for its intoxicating effect, but for the actual flavor, and O'Doul's or Sharp's work well for that, and are often cheaper.

  • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:54PM (6 children)

    by maxwell demon (1608) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @06:54PM (#928216) Journal

    Exactly. I don't mind buying vegetarian or vegan stuff, if it is a genuine product (and tastes good). But I generally avoid vegetarian/vegan fake meat. If I want meat, I eat the real one. If I decided to go without meat, I'd also go without fake meat.

    If there were less fake meat and more genuine (and tasty) vegetarian/vegan products, I might eat more vegetarian/vegan food than I do now.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Wednesday December 04 2019, @07:51PM (3 children)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @07:51PM (#928233)

      I think a lot of their marketing is about it being better for the planet [umich.edu], not necessarily much better for *you*. tl;dr version at the bottom of this giant infographic [beyondmeat.com], under "Our Impact".

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @08:52PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @08:52PM (#928247)

        "Pay us to save your soul!Or else!"

        • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Wednesday December 04 2019, @09:40PM

          by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @09:40PM (#928258)

          ... "buy an Impossible Burger!"

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05 2019, @11:30AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05 2019, @11:30AM (#928416)

        I occasionally have the vegetarian option, just because I feel like it. Where I used to live there was a pizza shop did a great vegetarian pizza. I used to order a vegetarian with added ham and cheese. Got funny looks the first few times, but it was a really excellent pizza.

        I think a lot of their marketing is about it being better for the planet, not necessarily much better for *you*.

        The only response I have for that is fuck them sideways with a baseball bat wrapped in barb wire.
        Same reason I don't give a shit about global warming. If it was really a problem they wouldn't be flying all over the planet bleating about it at holiday resort conferences.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @11:37PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @11:37PM (#928281)

      If there were [...] more genuine (and tasty) vegetarian/vegan products, I might eat more vegetarian/vegan food than I do now.

      Oops, just noticed you said "products" do vegetables still count? There's plenty of vegetarian food in the produce isle, its just not productized into something you can advertise/market/trade-mark. Maybe run adds for carrots and convince people they're a ground-breaking new product?

      There's plenty of healthy food, but maybe not "products".

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Acabatag on Thursday December 05 2019, @02:23AM

        by Acabatag (2885) on Thursday December 05 2019, @02:23AM (#928319)

        Sadly, there are carrots now that are essentially a 'product.' I like buying what they call 'baby carrots' which are smaller less mature carrots. They're tastier and since they have more surface area are probably more nutritious. But 'baby carrot' has now become a product. They take regular carrots and cut them into shorter chunks and put them in a bag labeled 'baby carrots.'

        You can still usually get real young carrots, but the 'baby carrot' is now a marketed product.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @09:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04 2019, @09:36PM (#928256)

    Is it important that you understand why?

    Aside from that, why can't it be the simple distinction that one wants and enjoys the flavor and texture but one has some ethical reason why they don't want to eat a killed animal if there's a reasonable alternative? Or doesn't want the buzz of the beer (or can't have it because one is in a profession that makes enjoyment difficult or a religion....) Or.... allergies.

    Flip the question around.... If there is an alternative for which you won't be able to tell the difference then why insist on one version or the other? (Which I don't think exists yet in meat - I can barely tell the difference between an Impossible Whopper and the real thing but I can tell it. It's still tasty and I hope it sticks around.)

  • (Score: 2) by sjames on Wednesday December 04 2019, @10:11PM

    by sjames (2882) on Wednesday December 04 2019, @10:11PM (#928268) Journal

    Of course, the reasons are widely varied. In some cases there may be medical reasons such as liver disease making alcohol a bad idea for someone who likes the taste of beer. As for meat, a variety of conditions, including a tick bite [wikipedia.org], might make actual meat a bad idea.